iTunes Unlimited: music subscription rumor returns

iTunes Unlimited: music subscription rumor returns

Summary: We've heard the rumors of an iTunes subscription service before, but they've never materialized. It doesn't hurt that Steve Jobs has long been a vociferous opponent of rental music (paying one monthly fee for unlimited music downloads).

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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iTunes Unlimited: subscription rumor returnsWe've heard the rumors of an iTunes subscription service before, but they've never materialized. It doesn't hurt that Steve Jobs has long been a vociferous opponent of rental music (paying one monthly fee for unlimited music downloads). When asked about it he recites his familiar mantra that "people want to own their music."

While I generally agree with him and prefer to own my music (preferably without DRM), times change and Apple needs to change with them. Jobs also dissed flash music players and PDAs for years too, and now look at them.

This latest iTunes subscription rumor comes from TUAW who received an email tip too juicy to pass up. According to the source:

...the late September Apple event would introduce several great items that we'd love to see but haven't been holding our breath for. These are disk access for the iPhone and iPod Touch and iTunes Unlimited.

The source also provided some details on pricing saying that iTunes Unlimited will cost US$129.99 per year or US$179.99 bundled with MobileMe. It will also be offered to current MobileMe subscribers for US$99. Naturally, you'd have to maintain an active account and connect your iPod regularly or risk having your music deactivated.

Subscription music isn't really for me, but judging by the success of Rhapsody and Napster, someone is buying it. Is it Apple's turn?

[poll id=142]

Topics: Hardware, Apple, Mobility

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19 comments
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  • I just don't understand

    why Apple doesn't offer a subscription service. They already have the DRM and authentication services in place. It would cost them very little.

    But I guess this is Apple. They tell you how you will use their products that you paid for.
    mdemuth
  • Can't wait for Apple fans to do a 180

    After years of telling us that Microsoft is evil for supporting subscription services, they'll suddenly start telling us how wonderful Apple is for doing the exact same thing. Oh, wait, the difference will be the [b]USER EXPERIENCE!!![/b]

    [i]Four legs good... two legs baaaaad.
    Four legs good... two legs baaaaad.
    Four legs good... two legs baaaaad.[/i]

    :)
    NonZealot
    • well yeah...

      I think i kind of see the point you are trying to make, even though it doesn't fit... Apple hasn't ever been against subscriptions in general, just Jobs didn't want to do it for Music... most Mac users just don't give a crap if iTunes does it or not.

      I'm still trying to think of a situation where "Apple Fans" did a 180 on something though... generally... can't think of any though, unless you twist the fact to make it look like 180s when its not...
      doh123
      • 180s

        180s? I do them frequently, but I do them only in pairs.
        (180+180)
        ;-)
        ManoaHI
  • Doesn't really make that much sense for me

    Doesn't really make that much sense for me - it's fine for movies, which I generally watch only once, but doesn't make so much sense for music, which I generally like to listen to more than once.

    Maybe that's just because I have a small music library? I don't know.

    I [b]do[/b] know that, just like movies and TV episodes, I like to buy the ones I like the best. The biggest thing I fear is that some stuff may become "subscription only" and won't be available for purchase.
    CobraA1
    • Let me break it down...

      1. As is commonly misunderstood by opponents of the subscription model, the point of a subscription is not to REPLACE individual purchases, but to COMPLIMENT them. People haven't stopped buying DVD's even though they subscribe to Netflix. I have plenty of tracks that I've purchased, but when deciding to buy a CD or not, I'll typically download it from my Napster subscription to determine whether it's worth buying or if it's a classic case of one-good-song-nine-tracks-of-filler.

      2. On Napster, tracks can be any combination of "subscribe", "individual purchases", and "album only". iTunes isn't that much different since right now tracks can be Album Only and certain albums can be individual tracks. That's unlikely to change. Given Jobs' aversion to subscription services, I could see him not allowing subscription only tracks, but there are no guarantees.


      Joey
      voyager529
  • Owned? More like pwned...

    No one OWNS the download music they purchase. What you buy is the right to use that music. It's not like you can turn around and legally sell it to someone else, like you can a car, baseball trading card, book...or an audio CD.

    Likely identifiers are encoded in each and every one of those "purchased" downloads, if only to see who's loose and carefree with their media files. Yeah, you could burn it onto a CD as an audio disc, then re-rip...but you still couldn't legally sell it in either form.
    flatliner
  • Subscriptions suck

    To buy music on a regular basis makes 0 sense to me. You can never rely on the new stuff being any good, the quality of music in the industry goes up and down randomly. It does not matter what genre you like, it all turns to crap at some point before something interesting arises again.

    Also, there is no gaurantee that any given service will always have the music you want anyway. That's why I refuse to be tied in to any service.
    T1Oracle
  • It makes sense from a budget standpoint.

    I download more than 11 songs a month. Every Month. Period.
    ChaseDPU
  • Obviously DRMed if you must connect regularly

    There is no way I would subscribe to that service. I want my own music sitting on my own machines without giving them the right to disable it any time they want. This "must connect regularly" crap reeks of yet another RIAA "let's punish our legal customers" DRM scheme. The RIAA can bite my crank before I'll give any of them another dime. Three cheers for independent music!

    Everybody visit the boycott-riaa web site and join the grass roots movement to get rid of them.
    BillDem
  • Not for $130

    I don't buy $130 of music from iTunes a year, so I couldn't justify paying that for a subscription.
    jhhicks@...
  • RE: iTunes Unlimited: music subscription rumor returns

    I agree that the subscription and purchase options are
    different animals. While I prefer to own my music, the depth
    and breadth of Rhapsody is great. However, you do give up
    quite a bit in sound quality. If iTunes does the same thing,
    and ups the quality substantially, Rhapsody could be in
    trouble.
    ronfour@...
  • RE: iTunes Unlimited: music subscription rumor returns

    Another revenue stream which is waste of money for most people. I love to listen to my music and have bought online music but I don't see any justification for paying just for the service and not the music itself.
    Subscriptions suck unless you use it all of the time.
    phatkat
  • Downloaded music is terrible quality

    Have people really lost their ears? Even 256 kbps is offensive to ears. Anybody that wants music should buy, borrow, or rent the CD and import the music at a decent quality - 320 kbps is the minimum.
    jorjitop
    • Hear, Hear?

      I agree. I've bought about 10 songs on iTunes. The rest are
      CDs that I own. However, at home, I really prefer vinyl.
      ManoaHI
      • Agreed!

        The crap 256k files are good enough for the crap headphones apple gives you. Soon as you replace the headphones, or plug it into a stereo of some sort, you really hear how bad it is. Apple lossless should be the minimum. As for subscription, what a rip off.

        What happened to the day when you would go to the record store and get to touch the media, read the liner notes etc. It was an experience.

        I guess it is just the "use once and throw it away attitude"
        jdstrong
  • RE: iTunes Unlimited: music subscription rumor returns

    Nice way to think, but if you are a some time user, then I
    would have to say no.
    larry@...
  • CHOICE

    I don't get why subscription hasn't been done yet. It's true that you either love or hate subscription based services but why can't Apple just offer consumers choice for either or both. That's what the other music services do. They don't MAKE you use the the subscription service. You have a choice. If you love it you can buy it. If you hate it, then just stick to your 99 cents a track to "own" your music. It's that simple. Make both consumers happy. Who is Jobs to speak for ALL people when he says "people want to own their music". I happen to like subscription based music, $130 a year turns out to be about $10.83 a month which is about an album a month for unlimited music. From a economical standpoint I'd buy a subscription based model in a heartbeat. Let's be real, it provides more convenience to get that music unlimited straight from itunes directly to my iphone than....let's say my other sources. I'm going to get my music regardless so Apple could have my business or I can go elsewhere and still put it on my iphone. I'm sorry but I'm not a fan of paying 99 cents a song.
    JMJMJMJM
  • RE: iTunes Unlimited: music subscription rumor returns

    how many people use iTunes anyways?
    digitalvirtue